Videos [Thorough Water]

New Videos: Boulder River Aphorisms and Portraits of Water

I have created two new video sequences over the last month. The first was completed at Friday Harbor Labs’s Whiteley Center, in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington. This video utilizes video taken from Boulder River near Arlington and Darrington. The video includes a sequence of poetic statements, aphorisms a la Rene Char, and has significant vocal manipulation. Responding to a friend, who asked me if my intention was to freak people out, “Yes.” The video is available in HD and 60FPS.

The second video sequence is a set of four abstract videos, and it is called Portraits of Water 1-4 (Silent). The video footage was taken in and near Friday Harbor, earlier this month, and has been manipulated to appear completely abstract. This was my first major foray into blending in Adobe Premier, which I intentionally overdid to highlight certain textures within the water (similar to paint, as a medium). An updated version may appear, down the road, but for now I am content with the silent versions. All four can be viewed in a single video or in individual videos. All are included below. These are also in HD and 60FPS, though the quality will probably seem “rougher.” The footage is mostly from a GoPro, both above and below the surface of the ocean.

Domestic Travel My Poetry Videos [Thorough Water]

New Video: Oceanic Triptych

Now available on YouTube: Oceanic Triptych (38:53 minutes)

Breakdown of contents

  • Introduction: The Breaker (also available as a standalone 4 minute video here)
  • Triptych Panel 1: Memory Shores
  • Triptych Panel 2: Sheathed Realities
  • The Signature
  • Triptych Panel 3: Manzanita Warmth
  • Closing: The Elsewhere that Codifies (featuring video preview of the Boulder River sequence, forthcoming)

Fun facts

  • Oceanic Triptych is intended to be watched in a single sitting, start to finish, ad nauseum to nausea
  • Oceanic Triptych is a follow-up to the installation piece Thorough Water: Here and There (which includes video from the Quinault Rain Forest, Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, the Royal Basin on the Olympic Peninsula, and Ross Lake in the North Cascades)
  • The unedited, hour-long sunset video is also on YouTube here
  • More abstract? Try Gatton Falls Study (playlist)
  • More abstract than that? Try Oregon Video Poems (especially the 2019 ones) (playlist)
  • What’s next? The Boulder River Sequence (video poetry featuring Char-esque aphorisms, coming in January)
  • What’s after that? An untitled San Juan Islands project

My Poetry Videos [Thorough Water]

New Video Poem: The Breaker

Part 1 of 2 in the Thorough Water: Sheathed Reality sequence. Prelude to Oceanic Triptych. All recorded in 2019. Features video from Manzanita, Oregon. Video production, text, and vocals by Greg Bem.

GIF Images Videos [Thorough Water]

Fall 2019 Boulder River GIF

This GIF, based on footage taken at Boulder River in the Cascade Mountains, is a preface to the now-released Oceanic Triptych.

Boulder River Current GIF
My Poetry [Thorough Water]

Script: Thorough Water: Here and There

Here is the text from the video Thorough Water: Here and There.

Thorough Water: There and Here

“Water is part of a pattern I’ve watched unfold throughout my career. I document landscapes that, whether you think of them as beautiful or monstrous, or as some strange combination of the two, are clearly not vistas of an inexhaustible, sustainable world.”

– Edward Burtynsky (Walrus, October 2013)

1: Quinault

“Human presence, once a factor less important to than elk or fungi, was then transformed into an agent of disruption as great as the ice ages themselves.”

– The Olympic Rain Forest: An Ecological Web, by Ruth Kirk (114)

Reasonable. The water still flowing in front of me, I remember sitting in place, stone monument, effigy of towers of wood and slashes of fern through millions of shades of green. While the creeks chugged along. The falls felled vision and circumstance. The tides were our breaths and the blood pushing against the walls of our muscles, skin, our frames.

Nestled. Nested. We can sit and watch the echoing of the scrapes against the land as that apparent infinity continues. I feel it now. The rumble. The roar. The press. And yet I know: what I saw was a marvel and could always move to the finite. To the nevermore. To the last stretch and the longing, so deep within, so trusted, this longing, this beautiful, fantastic emptiness. Quinault in daylight: where we go to think of loss.

2: Phipps

“The bubbles formed a sweet-smelling bell.”

– from “The Bath” by Elizabeth Cooperman (in Make it True meets Medusario, page 140)

They demand our attention, and we enter, and we wait. A factory of water that sprouts awareness. Education. And the pure bliss of a splashing corridor. I could watch humans pass by this vision towards conservation over and over. I could watch them move along, cascade like droplets into some basin of rejection. Or perhaps they stop by: admire as a tarn, as a cache of the leftover, and move along. The conservatory: a museum of the living. More trust. More love. More responses indicative of demand, imperative, resolve.

The most startling quality: what we place over the core. The core identity, the core message: we cover ourselves and our lives and the truth up with decoration faster than the beat of the tongue on the roof of the mouth: faster than a single word, covered in moonlight or the fatigue of the sun as another day passes, and we must reinvigorate our experience. Calmly. Splash. Shatter of liquid. Present enough to touch. Present enough to coat the body, the camera, the phone, glasses, purses, the paths to our collective futures of transience. Of an abyss worth living through to grind surplus into the dust of departure.

3: Royal Basin

the quick water
the slow water

and the same bank

– from “Remembrance of Water” by John Taylor (26)

Before the marmot screamed me into electricity, I watched the flow of blue through an underwater lens. The capture of light in the process of refraction: muddy and undeniably instant. The present moment, at least as far as water goes, is a shockingly muted experience. But this was the case in the upper meadow-filled basin of Royal. I have memories as a child on the Atlantic Coast, Southern Maine specifically, where the waves would throw me around like a bundle of rags, and I would see black and green and white and silver as my crushed body struggled to make sense of tumult and torment. To give form to the instant, an instant so extreme that form was its opposite.

Royal Basin, though, where Amy meditated and I imagined more bears and the edge of the peaks looked down like wizards burying their rituals into my shoulders, my back, the upper tip of my spine, energy slowly spreading through, like snowmelt pushing down mountainside steadily, methodically. That is: of stead and method, and me, the onlooker, in awe. I think of the source and urge myself to remain cordial. Past days I would jump into those glacial waters emulating sage or celebration. Now I stare and grow fond of the chance to be amazed at a stillness created by the infinity. The water that can remain the ideal while we still have time.

4: North Cascades

“I feel increasingly content simply being here, present, not doing anything in particular.”

– Chasing Clayoquot: A Wilderness Almanac by David Pitt-brook (112)

Dams made of brittle, exacting concrete and metal. The resort that houses a semblance of menial organization amidst a system of ecstatic beauty. The towering giants with names I’ll never remember, and shapes that change in my dreams. The listless ripples that etch into the topography like scales on the limbs of a myth. It is in the North Cascades that love breaks apart into reality, and vice versa. It is in the North Cascades that the slices of nature afford us with breath and breeze, and there is just as much ordinary as exceptional. Ross Lake holds the footprint together. It is the instrument we have earned through preservation and attentiveness. And it is shrinking.

Seeing 10-20 feet less of a lake for the first time after many visits provides a hollowing sense of fear and an indignation so human it feels unique, untrue, questionable. There are many causes for less water, and the ecology is difficult to pair with witness. But there are moments that trigger an awareness of spectrum, and that spectrum is the development of the relationship with the many possibilities. Staring down at the lake, several years ago, I imagined swallowing the entire thing in a single gulp. It might be that that gulp is ongoing, now, and into the future, and the swallowing involves savoring the benefits through to exhaustion amidst awe. 10-20 feet lower, and my breath still wavers, my mind still feathery and bracing for tragic circumstances. And regardless, there is readiness. To be able to receive, and to do it gently. That might be what is owed, before the ends and the retributions.

My Poetry Videos [Thorough Water]

Short Video: Thorough Water: Here and There

Videos [Thorough Water]

New videos: Thorough Water – Ross Lake Invert

Ross Lake Invert 1/2 (Recorded at Ross Lake Dam, North Cascades, August 2019)
Ross Lake Invert 2/2 (Recorded at Ross Lake Dam, North Cascades, August 2019)
Domestic Travel Videos [Thorough Water]

New Videos: Cascade Falls and Griffiths-Priday State Park

Additional Thorough Water videos from May 2019. These collect multiple shots per. Intentional focus on lower-density videos to capture the roughness of the experience. Both can be watched in HD.

Domestic Travel Videos [Thorough Water]

Gatton Falls Study

A ten-part [Thorough Water] exploration of a set of a falls located in the Quinault Rain Forest.

Recorded in May 2019. Visit my YouTube channel for more underwater [Thorough Water] videos, including the Oregon Video Poems and Through Water.

[Thorough Water] is a serialized Cascadian meditation.

Domestic Travel My Poetry Videos [Thorough Water]

Oregon Video Poems 4-7

Additional videos recorded at Cannon Beach, Oregon, in October 2018. Part of “Thorough Water,” a Serialized Cascadian Meditation.

Domestic Travel My Poetry Videos [Thorough Water]

Oregon Video Poems 1-3

Recorded at Cannon Beach, Oregon, in October 2018. Part of “Thorough Water,” a Serialized Cascadian Meditation.

Domestic Travel My Poetry Videos [Thorough Water]

New Video: Through Water v1 – LWTech Art Exhibit

Draft of Through Water, an upcoming video/textual project about transience, based on creative practices at the New Dungeness Lighthouse in Sequim, Washington.